Budding young footballers from Tupton Hall School have been crowned national champions in the FA Youth Futsal Competition.
The Under 12s Girls’ Team blazed through district, county and regional competitions before earning their place at the national finals at Birmingham International Futsal Arena.
They beat off 400 other school and club teams from across the country. Eighteen matches were played and not one was lost! Three were draws and the rest were victorious wins.
Their meteoric rise mirrored the England women’s team at the Women’s World Cup in Canada, which the Tupton girls used as their inspiration.
Tension was high as the Tupton team entered the finals. But the girls pulled out all the stops in the group stages. Two draws and a win saw them through to the semi-final which was to be a heart stopping game…
Tupton found themselves 3-0 down at half time and were heading towards a third National semi-final defeat of the season.
After strong words at half time they came out flying in the second half and got two early goals through Mollie Stanley to get them back into the game.
Tupton were camped in the opposition’s half but could not find the equalising goal. With less than 20 seconds on the clock Tupton fired a shot wide giving the opponents’ keeper possession of the ball - the game looked to be over. With 10 seconds left it would have been easy for the girls to accept defeat.
But Tupton's 'never say die' attitude came shining through as Millie Standen quickly closed the opposing right back down with 5 seconds to go. The opposing player's clearance looped up off Standen and fell to Stanley who took a touch with her thigh with 1 second on the clock. The ball bounced up, and as the buzzer echoed around the arena Stanley struck a volley from 15 yards out that flew into the bottom corner of the net.
Tupton players and staff went wild before pausing for a moment of hesitation, waiting for the referee to confirm that the goal would stand. The opposing manager tried to convince the referee that the buzzer had gone. But the referee confirmed that the goal counted as contact was made with the ball as the buzzer went.
The game went straight to penalties, with Stanley, Olivia Buckley and Katy Webster all scoring to send Tupton through to the final.
Tupton took the momentum from their incredible second half semi-final display to pile on the pressure in the final but couldn't find the breakthrough they needed. They went in at half-time with the score at 0-0.
But Tupton's relentless pressure was rewarded in the second half as Standen jinked passed the defender to fire a shot into the bottom corner and give Tupton the lead. Soon afterwards Stanley blasted a second goal before Standen got her second of the game, giving Tupton a comfortable 3-0 lead. The final whistle went and Tupton were crowned FA Youth Futsal Festival National Champions. Team captain Abbie Greaves who was a rock of defence throughout the whole tournament proudly lifted the trophy to top off an unbelievable first football season for the Year 7 girls’ team.
This year’s Year 7 girls’ team has been run by teaching staff Mr Michael Edwards and Miss Danielle Rooney. They both expressed their delight at the level of participation and enthusiasm for girls’ football shown by this year’s students.
They said it had been amazing to see the young team developing throughout the season. And for a number of girls it was the very first time they had played competitive football.
Miss Rooney said: “They have put an incredible amount of effort into training and games so they thoroughly deserve all the success they are having.”
Team: Abbie Greaves, Mollie Stanley, Millie Standen, Olivia Buckley, Katy Webster and Emma Wilbourne.